R&B music lovers are in for a treat. The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame is set to open in Cleveland in the summer of 2013. The museum will celebrate the accomplishments of R&B in music history through interactive exhibits, educational programming and an annual list of inductees.
According to a press release, the class of 2013 inductees will consist of 25 artists, including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, James Brown, The Temptations, The O’Jays, Gerald Levert and Aretha Franklin. Reverend Al Sharpton will also be honored for his life-long support of many R&B and Gospel artists with the Ron Banks Humanitarian Award.
The museum's founders are Ron Banks, a former member of The Dramatics, and LaMont Robinson, founder of Leo’ Casino in Cleveland. Together they form the Robinson Global Sports & Entertainment Group, LLC.
Robinson's love for R&B music started as a child. "I was a big James Brown fan and my uncle played in the band at Leo’s Casino behind Edwin Starr, and I’ve always had a big love for music," he said in an interview with the local Cleveland paper, Call & Post.
In February, Robinson led the creation of a mobile R&B exhibit because he wanted to highlight the artists that didn't get recognition in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Groups like The Dramatics, The Stylists they might not ever get in there, and if they do we may not get to see it. They deserve to be in it," he said. “I don’t get mad when they honor Bruce Springsteen and all these other big names because we as Black folks need our own.”
Robinson had dreams of turning his mobile exhibit into a permanent museum, and thanks to sponsorship by Leo’s Casino, he has been able to turn his dream into reality.
"I decided since Cleveland was already the Rock Capital of the World that we ought to make it the Rhythm and Blues Capital of the World," he said. "I began to start putting together memorabilia and the concept and talking to different people that would help me put it together."
The inaugural induction ceremony will be held on May 5, 2013 at Cleveland’s Music Hall/Public Auditorium, the same venue where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are held.
Other integrated components of the R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum will include an African-American Music Research Center, Gospel Music & Preachers Hall of Fame Museum and the Hip Hop Museum of America.